The Wizard of Use

The Wizard of Oz

Question: What do the Wizard of Oz and the Product Development Phase have in common? Answer: Intellectual wizardry behind the scenes.

In product development, there is an incredible amount of insight and intellectual ‘heavy-lifting’ that goes into developing a product.  The processes vary considerably depending what is being made, but there is a common approach used everywhere. It’s called Usability.

According to the Usability Body of Knowledge, Usability is the degree to which something – software, hardware or anything else – is easy to use and a good fit for the people who use it. It’s also the umbrella term for a group of techniques developed by usability professionals.

The following are some methods used in the User Experience profession to design many of the innovative products we use today.

Cognitive Walkthrough
The cognitive walkthrough is a usability evaluation method in which one or more evaluators work through a series of tasks and ask a set of questions from the perspective of the user.

Information Architecture (IA)
The process of organizing information including the structure, design, layout and navigation in a way that is easy for people to find, understand and manage the information.

Longitudinal Study
A study that captures data over a period of time (days, week, months or years) to understand the long-term effects of changes in products, processes or environment.

Parallel Design
A method where several design groups produce alternative designs in parallel, with the objective of incorporating the best aspects of each design in the final solution.

Think-aloud Protocol
A direct observation method of user testing that involves asking users to think out loud as they are performing a task. Users are asked to say whatever they are looking at, thinking, doing, and feeling at each moment. This method is especially helpful for determining users’ expectations and identifying what aspects of a system are confusing.

Wizard of Oz, Usability method

Last but not least…

Wizard of Oz
Evaluating the overall success or failure of a design by using simulations of interactions with callers. Instead of spending money and time on building a functioning interactive voice response (IVR) system, a “man behind the curtain” will pretend to be the system. Hence the name.


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